“So they are no longer two, but one, therefore what God has joined together let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6)
“You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14)
When God created human beings, he created marriage. God created them male and female, and the first picture we see of their relationship is one of marriage. In Genesis 2, God created Adam “from the dust of the ground” and after a time, “no suitable helper was found” for him (Gen 2:20). That’s when God put Adam into a deep sleep and fashioned from him just such a helper. Her name became Eve, and the first marriage took place at the moment of their meeting.
For those readers unfamiliar with the “birds and the bees”, you probably ought to read no further. Trust me.
I am amazed that a book considered so holy and pure that children ought to be encouraged to read it (and they should, don’t get me wrong) contains information that children ought not to be familiar with at younger ages. It seems to me that children need to carefully exposed to Biblical content until their life experience can prepare them for it. Just sayin’.
Ziony Zevit’s book What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden (Yale University Press, 2013) suggests that this surgery for Adam isn’t what we’ve always been taught. We’ve always been taught that Adam’s rib was removed from his side. From this rib, Eve was formed.
From this I’ve always associated Matthew Henry’s beautiful quote:
“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”
I’ve even used this quote, because it speaks to the beauty of the relationship between men and women. However, Zevit suggests a different part of the anatomy was involved. There goes centuries of beautiful word pictures, right? Well, rather than a rib, Zevit suggests that Adam’s baculum was removed. This because the original Hebrew speaks not of a rib specifically, but a part of the body that sticks out from the rest. This contradicts the story I was told as a child that men have one fewer set of ribs than women. According to Wikipedia, “The baculum (also penis bone, penile bone, or os penis, or os priapi) is a bone found in the penis of many placental mammals. It is absent in the human penis, but present in the penises of other primates, such as the gorilla and chimpanzee.” What a curious absence. Physicians have long known that the number of ribs on men and women are the same. But one bone absent among humans is the baculum, a bone present in primates. Curious, isn’t it?
Read this way, we see: “Then the Lord God made a woman from the baculum he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” (Gen 2:22)
The single most important physical point of contact for the man in the act of intimacy involves the penis, powerful in the number of nerve endings it hosts, and its complementary physical opposite within women. Without this bone in our skeleton, it is much more difficult for women to achieve the apex of her sexual pleasure. Thus the man disciplines his mind and his sexual energy out of his love for his wife. This is a picture of sacrificial love, to keep himself from his own physical climax until his wife has enjoyed the experience. God intentionally removed this particular bone in order to fashion the woman, to demand upon the husband a discipline of mind, to give place to her needs, to give her pleasure. And it is upon this singular relationship, dare I say this singular act of love between them, between the husband and the wife in marriage that all of society is built upon it. He removed the bone that would have kept the masculine member erect at all times and fashioned it into a feminine person. And when the masculine and the feminine come together, the male and the female become “one flesh.”
Paul emphasizes this point warning the Christians in Corinth about having sex with prostitutes:
“Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”” (1Co 6:16)
This explains why men and women have such an unexplainable infatuation with each other, why “love at first sight” is a thing. It is such a basic, even elemental force in our being that we can’t explain it. It is part of our source code. And just as men long to be united with women, so women long to be united with men. We call it “sex drive” or “libido” but it comes from from long ago separation, a separate but equal creation, in the garden of Eden.
This is not to say that some aren’t completely satisfied being single. Jesus says that sometimes, this drive is not present, and sometimes it is forcibly removed:
“For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” (Mat 19:12)
Not many are able. Because of this, Sex comes with a warning label.
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1Co 7:1-2)
The drive to unite sexually is so powerful, that unless it is carefully guarded and contained within a marriage, it can destroy everything else. It is something that ought only to be experienced by mature adults, and not by children. Children who are awakened too early reflect many immature attitudes towards sexuality when they mature. Hence, source code 7, “Do not commit adultery”. At its essence, it is about guarding the sexual perimeter of marriage. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4) It about maintaining the purity of the marriage relationship. Any sexual experience that takes place outside the covenanted heterosexual marriage relationship is “fornication” and “sexual immorality”. Those comes with many other warnings. Jesus adds in Matthew 5:28 that even to internalize and fantasize about a sexual relationship outside this marriage covenant violates the commandment against adultery. Adultery isn’t just about violating the covenant with your present wife, but as unmarrieds, your future spouse. Keeping yourself pure is essential because marriage is the only place that sex can be safely practiced. All others must abstain. Why?
Marriage is the foundational community. Before God created government, before He created the family, before He created the Church, He created marriage. Marriage precedes and thus helps to define all other human relationships. This isn’t about living together, one-night stands, or any of the other euphemisms we apply to fornication. This isn’t about same-sex committed relationships either, or the faux marriage many trapped in such lifestyles pretend. This is marriage as defined as one man and one woman covenanted to each other as long they both shall live.
Marriage defines family. Duh, but let it be said that many believe families can be composed of any group of people. While this is possible, it’s not the ideal. A family composed of a group of people not related to each other are bound only by the strength of that commitment, time spent normalizes it. Traditional families are bound not only by this, but the biological component, bound by blood and DNA, behaviors and mannerisms that reflect one’s upbringing. Children are born in the image of their parents (and grandparents) and are more strongly bound. Even if those parents are awful people, there is still a piece of of a child’s heart that will always be bound to them. Marriage is the foundation of a family, providing the DNA and the stable household in which children are born, raised, and developed into mature adults. Unlike animals, of which most are ready to fend for themselves at birth, humans require time in a protected environment, so that their more complex brains not only learn language and essential life skills (going to the potty), but develop social and emotional intelligence. Children who do not have this either “grow up too fast” or don’t grow up at all, and are emotionally or intellectually stunted.
Marriage defines community. Stable communities are composed of stable families. Sexual relationships are confined within the boundaries of male-female covenanted relationships. The lines of descent, who is the father of who, as it were, are clearly defined. Children know who their parents are, and there is no one who questions their parentage. Neighbors are not seeking one another for sexual favors. Household integrity remains strong. In this environment, Families work together toward common goals, agree on boundaries, have their kids play together in an environment of trust. Families socialize without worry. The community is strong when household sexual boundaries are sacrosanct.
Marriage defines government. As communities grow, they require governance. In time they will seek out those who can govern, who can judge fairly between households, and give wise counsel. How a man’s marriage goes defines his worth as a ruler and a judge. How an officer treats his children is an example of how he treats his people. If a man cannot be faithful to his wife, how will be be faithful to his oath of office? When recommending men for eldership in the church, Paul says to look at their marriage record. (See 1 Timothy 3:2). Deuteronomy 17:17 warns that a king ought not to have many wives, or his heart will turn away (from his proper duty as ruler). If he cannot be a good father to his children, how can he be so to his community? (See 1 Timothy 3:5)
Marriage defines the Church. Marriage is the model for Christ and the Church. Many passages employ this metaphor:
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Do not make the mistake that the Church invented marriage. Rather, marriage precedes the Church by nearly 1700 years. God invented marriage to be a sacred relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus reaffirms this in Matthew 19. He says that the marriage relationship isn’t simply the attraction of a man to a woman (and vice versa), but it is the God-enhanced covenant that keeps them together.
This is why Satan is so keen on redefining marriage. If he can undermine marriage, he can undermine all of the human community. If one pulls at this one thread long enough, the entire fabric of our society is undone. When we cannot tell who our fathers are, or who our mothers are anymore, we lose our connection to the past, and our concern with it. History is one of our best teachers, and when we lose it, we are doomed to repeat its mistakes. If we say we are nothing special because we came from nothing and go to nothing, then what motivation have we to do something? The first step toward this oblivion was adultery, which is why God placed this sign right there at the beginning. If sexual desire is within out source code, then source code 7 is our guardrail, to keep up from going over the cliff.